Countdown to Kickoff: 19 days away with tight end Sammy Wheeler, defensive back Ross Elder

Leading up to the start of K-State's 2021 football season, the Collegian takes a look at what to expect and highlights every player on the roster. (Archive photo by Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

As the start of the Kansas State football season gets closer, the Collegian looks at junior tight end Sammy Wheeler and senior defensive back Ross Elder.

Standing at 6 foot 4 inches and weighing 236 pounds, Sammy Wheeler spent his high school career playing quarterback for St. James Academy, throwing for 1,596 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 634 yards and five touchdowns.

Out of high school, Wheeler was rated the 39th-best dual-threat quarterback in the nation by ESPN and the sixth-best in Kansas.

After receiving offers from K-State and Missouri Southern State, Wheeler committed to the Wildcats on July 27, 2016. Wheeler isn’t the first of his namesake to come through K-State, with both his father Sean and uncle Mike playing wide receiver at the school in 1989.

Wheeler has since transitioned to tight end. He redshirted the 2018 season and had his 2019 season cut short because of an injury.

In 2020, Wheeler played seven games, including his first start with a win against No. 3 Oklahoma. He tallied seven receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown during the season.

With a bit of growth this offseason, Wheeler could see more playing time alongside fellow tight ends Daniel Imatorbhebhe and Nick Lenners.

Ross Elder, the second player on today’s countdown, stands at 6 foot 1 inch and weighs 192 pounds. While at Rockhurst High School, Elder totaled 90 tackles, five blocked kicks and two interception-return touchdowns as a defensive back.

Elder committed to K-State as a walk-on in early 2017, following in the footsteps of his family. His father, Todd, was a receiver for the Wildcats from 1984 to 1986 and his uncle, Eddie, played basketball from 1983 to 1985.

After redshirting in 2017, Elder primarily played on special teams in 2018 and 2019, totaling four special teams tackles in 2018 and two in 2019.

During the 2020 season, Elder jumped to the defensive roster and saw action in nine games, starting in seven. He totaled 41 tackles, including a tackle for loss against Baylor.

He totaled six tackles in four different games against Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia and Baylor.

Elder has a strong chance of starting for the Wildcats this season alongside Jahron McPherson, Justin Gardner and Cincere Mason.